October 29, 2014

My Knowledge, My Child

We are all familiar with the concept of transferring knowledge but I would like to share with you a concept that I recently came across – treating knowledge as if it was your child and its relationship with the extended family.

The way this concept was described to me is as follows;

With traditional knowledge transfer, the source of the knowledge writes down their knowledge and waits for someone to use it.  If they are proactive they might alert people to the documentation that they have prepared.  They might even share some of the knowledge verbally but the essential element is that they put it out there without much regard to what happens to it later on.  Sort of like leaving your child outside a library and walking away.

The child concept means that you treat your knowledge as if it were your child.  You nurture it, you develop it and when the time is right you pass it onto someone that will treat it with the same respect (and dare I say, love) as you did.  But it doesn’t stop there; you work with that person to help them assimilate your knowledge into their knowledge (their family) so that it becomes one, the end result being more than the components of the two knowledges.

I like this concept because it acknowledges the effort you have put into creating or amassing the knowledge in the first place but also that you have an on-going relationship with the knowledge and the person that is now the steward and implementer of that knowledge.  Seems more rewarding to all concerned that just dumping it into a database!

October 3, 2014

Don't #10 - Don't Think Knowledge Retention Is The Only Component

In many industries and companies the loss of knowledge due to staff retiring is a huge challenge.  For that reason their focus is quite understandably on knowledge retention.  A large part of our workload with clients is based on helping them to meet their knowledge capture needs but please ensure that you don't forget the other components that are required in a successful knowledge management strategy and framework.

Your knowledge management strategy should include knowledge retention as a sub component in just the same way as it should include knowledge transfer or seeking new knowledge to support your innovation or product development work.

October 1, 2014

Don't #9 - Don't Cut And Paste

During the many years where I have been doing assessment and benchmarking of knowledge management initiatives, one of the things that I have consistently seen fail to deliver satisfying results is where the approach taken in one company is "cut and pasted" into another company.

One of the reasons that this type of approach fails is because the context in which the original success was achieved wasn't also cut and pasted into the next organisation.

By all means learn from other organisations, learn what they did, learn the processes they used, learn what didn't work, learn what roles they put in place and learn what technology they used but above all, learn and understand the context within which all of this took place.

Once you understand the context you can compare that to your context.  That might include comparing things like;
  • industry type eg service or product
  • geographical location
  • language
  • number and distribution of office and manufacturing plants
  • number of staff
  • age and experience profile of staff
Learning will help to shape your knowledge management program, cut and paste is unlikely to.